Good nutrition helps prevent or control age-related health conditions

About one-third of Canadians seniors (over 4.1 million) living at home are at risk of not getting adequate nutrition, according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey. Age-related physical changes—such as diminished appetite and impaired taste and smell— contribute to nutritional risk, as do diseases and medications that interfere with the ingestion, absorption and metabolism of food. Living alone also increases a person’s risk, with nearly half of seniors who live alone at risk, the study found.

The two main factors that put older adults at nutritional risk are (1) gaining or losing more than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in the past six months, and (2) skipping meals almost every day, Statistics Canada says.

Healthy eating helps control chronic conditions

Senior-Woman-Eating-Fruit-Outside_Fotolia_130673014_smSeniors have higher rates of heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol and high blood pressure than the rest of the adult population. But healthy eating can prevent or slow down the progress of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer, says the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

The Canadian Diabetes Association advises that eating three meals per day at regular times, spacing meals no more than six hours apart, and having healthy snacks will help your body to control blood sugar levels.

A healthy, nutritious diet also can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by improving your cholesterol levels, reducing your blood pressure and helping you manage your body weight, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Eat lots of high-fibre vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and foods with protein including fish, beans, tofu and lean meat. Avoid highly processed foods with salt and sugar added, says Heart and Stroke.

For more ideas and recipes to make healthy eating easy, check out Eat Right Ontario’s A Guide to Healthy Eating for Older Adults.

Here are few more tips to help you eat well during retirement:

1) Stop unwanted weight loss. Eat smaller amounts of food more often and eat your favourite healthy foods any time of day.

2) Avoid skipping meals. Eat at regular times, plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, and pack healthy snacks to take with you when away from home.

3) Boost your appetite. Choose a comfortable place to eat, take a walk before meals, add herbs and spices to give your food more flavour, and eat meals with family and friends, if possible.

To learn more about Chartwell Retirement Residence’s dining experience, or to download a sample menu, click here.